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Keywords:

  • nanotechnology;
  • polymer brushes;
  • stimuli-sensitive polymers;
  • surfaces;
  • thin films

Abstract

Bottom-up surface processing with well-defined polymeric structures becomes increasingly important in many current technologies. Polymer brushes, that is, assemblies of macromolecules tethered at one end to a substrate, provide an exemplary system of materials capable of achieving such a goal. While the focus in the past decades has been mostly on their synthetic aspects and the in-depth study of their interesting properties, from several years now the core area of research has already started to shift towards specific practical applications. Ample functional versatility and relative ease of preparation are special strengths of polymer brushes, lending them a strong interdisciplinary character. To this end, this work is entirely dedicated to bringing together the latest research on applications of polymer brushes in multiple research fields. The aim of this review are twofold: first, to give a critical discussion of the current status of development of application-oriented research on polymer brushes, and second, to inform the reader as to what can be done with polymer brushes in multiple research fields. It is therefore hoped that the juxtaposition of perspectives from different disciplines in one place will stimulate and contribute to the ongoing process of cross-fertilization that is driving this fascinating and emerging area of polymer science. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Polym Sci Part A: Polym Chem, 2012